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tv   Harry Truman During WWI  CSPAN  January 26, 2019 9:46am-10:01am EST

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too great for many presidents. this is wilson's small constitutional presidency. it is designed for party leadership. presidents don't avoid the opportunity to use the address to try to score political points. we are way far away from that formal six inc. address -- succint address that george washington would have given, or many of his successors. the truman farm home is located in missouri, 15 minutes from independence. it was built by his grandmother in 1894. the future president lived here from 1906 until he left for world war i in 1917. up next, we take you to the truman presidential library to
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learn about his military service and how that helped shape his presidency. exhibition about harry truman in world war i. he was the only president who served combat in world war i. this is the story of his life leading up to the war, why he went to war, what he did, and what lessons he learned from the war. there were other presidents who had important roles in world war i for example, herbert hoover did relief programs, franklin roosevelt was the assistant secretary of the navy, dwight eisenhower became the commander during world war ii. he was running a base on the home front. he did not get into combat in the war. truman's experiences are unique, since he was the only president to serve in combat. we selected the title, heroes or corpses. it is taken from a memoir that truman wrote about his
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experiences as he was leaving new york harbor on the ship to france in 1918, he wrote in that that he was wondering if they would come back heroes or corpses? harry truman's interest in the military started at an early age. he loved to read. he was reading books about history and biography. he read about great military leaders. truman was aharry fraternity type person. he needed the camaraderie of other men. he would be a joiner of organizations. he joined the masons. one of the things he did was he joined the missouri national guard and he did that in 1905. this roughly corresponds to the time he was called back to help his father run the family farm in grandview. when he was on the farm, he was working hard but he also needed
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to get away. he needed to have the company of other young men his age. interesting story. his national guard uniform was this gorgeous blue uniform with red piping. he told the story of going home and showing the uniform to his grandmother at the farm. she had survived the civil war, lives through. she and the entire family had been southern sympathizers. they remembered the j hawkers from kansas coming over and doing damage to the farm. she said when she saw the blue uniform she said, "don't ever come back here wearing a blue uniform." truman said he never did. 1914, world war i started with the assassination of frans ferdinand. harry truman was still on the farm in grandview. the same year his father passed
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away. truman became responsible for running the farm. even though the war was started in europe, both the united states and harry truman were not involved. truman would read the news but there was nothing he could do. meanwhile, he had a girlfriend who lived in independence, bess wallace. he decided the best way he could get from the farm to her home was to buy a car. used 1911 model stafford automobile, built in kansas city. here is the photo of him and bess, out for a spin. he is running the farm, doing hard work while the war is unfolding in europe. he gives up his stent in the missouri national guard because he is needed so much at the farm. as the where things were
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united states started heading to war, which they finally entered in 1970. when the united states does enter the war -- in 1917. harry truman was 33 years old, older than most soldiers. that became a minor issue, the other main issue was his eyesight. according to him, he memorized the chart before he took the test so he could pass the exam. his eyes were very bad for his entire life. there was a chance he would not be accepted had he had to pass the test legitimately. out inruman was shipped the spring of 1918 to europe. on the way there he was sent to new york city. just before he left, his girlfriend gave him this oval photograph and with it a note that asked him to bring it home
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safely. he kept this in his shirt pocket throughout the war. after the war, he put it in a frame and kept it on one of his desks he had through his entire political career. when he was in new york waiting, he found an optometrist who would make some new glasses for him. in the processs, of making the new glasses, the optometrist chipped one of the lenses. he told her that he kept the lens. we have found that in our collection. it is displayed here. it was found in truman's little sewing kit, which is also displayed. it is a nice example of being able to compare a letter he wrote to his girlfriend along with an artifact we have in our collection. truman is shipped out in spring of 1918 and heads to europe. when he left for france, he was
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lieutenant harry s truman. he received a promotion to captain and did not find out about it for month. -- months. when he left, he had this tack box that he kept equipment for his horse and on it he had written in black print, lieutenant harry s truman. once he found out he had been promoted to captain, he wrote over the top of that, captain harry s truman. it shows before and after his promotion in the service. the first thing he did when he went to france was he was assigned to special advanced artillery training school at a small village in france. these are some of the tools he would use and equipment for his alternately -- is artillery training. it includes slide rules and compasses. he had advanced training. then he was sent and put in command of a battery.
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batteryd of the 129th. they called them the wild irish dizzy d's. battery d. mostly irish catholic, some german catholic, from the kansas city area. they were known to be feisty. they had been under several commanders before truman. displayed hishe sense of leadership. eventually they came to respect him as a fairly quiet but confident captain of their battery. one of the more interesting pieces in this show is this double barber's chair. there was a barber for battery d. his name was frank. europe from camp donovan and used it in the field to cut the battery's hair. when frank returned to kansas
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city, he opened a barbershop and truman became his regular customer essentially for the rest of his life. truman was sent to france along the front lines in france mostly valley, where most of the fighting took place. his first big challenge, once he was given command was what has come to be known as the battle of who run. late summer, early fall of 1918. field just moved his pieces into position. they had fired off a volley. they were getting ready to move them again, when the germans fired back and their shells landed all around. most of his men broke and ran. truman did not. that is where he really showed his first test of having courage in battle. mountains andhe
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battles toward the end of the war but when the armistice was reached on november 11, 1918, his unit suddenly did not have to fight anymore but they were stuck in france. what he did was being a real student of history and military battles and so forth, he wanted to do some sightseeing. he took a number of men from his unit and they traveled around mostly southern france to see various sites. he would write to bess from various locations. one of the letters was from monte carlo. "godey, gorgeous, just what you would expect from placing tourist and making them gamblers. the fleecing is done at the hotels and cafes." truman and his unit were finally able to return to the u.s. in the spring of 1919 on the ship
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on the way back, his battery members gathered together and made donations to raise money to give truman their commander a dving cup, from battery associates. truman was proud of this. after the war, when he set up his haberdashery business with eddie jacobson, truman displayed this in kansas city. other people from his unit would come in and it would be a place where they could gab about the war. when he came home, there is a nice photograph of part of battery d and the officers of with29th field artillery harry truman front and center in that photo. harry truman one hisgreatest battle -- won greatest battle when he married his longtime girlfriend.
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this is a photograph of the reception after the wedding. their wedding was on june 28, 1919, exactly five years to the day from when archduke frantz ferdinand was assassinated and the war began. day 28, 1919 was also the that the versailles treaty was signed, ending the war. it was a very important day for truman on many accounts. truman was a woodrow wilson democrat. he believed in woodrow wilson's ideas of international organization. in world war i, the league of nations had failed. after world war ii, truman was determined to make the new united nations work. there was one connection from the war. after world war i, truman went into business, which failed because there was a depression after world war i. after world war ii, harry truman
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was careful to keep economic controls on the economy while the economy switched from a thetary to a civilian mode, reconversion of the american economy. there was no depression after world war ii. truman also believed in justice from war, the proper way to deal with former enemies is to control them and make them friends. this is what he tried to do both with germany and japan after world war ii. bring them into the society of nations. then finally, truman, getting back to justice, after world war ii, they set up the nuremberg justiceo mete out legal to the leaders of nazi germany because he felt that it was not right just to have vengeance after a war. it was the rule of law.
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these are some of the lessons he drew from his experience in world war i. staffcer: our city's for traveled to independence, missouri to learn about its history. learn more about stop some tour at c-span.org/city tour. you're watching american history onall weekend, every weekend c-span3. >> american artifacts takes you to museums and other historic places to learn about american history. next we toured the national museum of the american indian americans exhibit with curator -- in the battle the little bighorn gallery, she shows us shields and drawings about 1876 battle.

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